Photo: Flickr / Misserion
A straight-talking post on Well-Heeled blog got us thinking about all the trite, one-size-fits-all personal finance advice floating out there. Here are a few of the biggest offenders, with our take on how to make them more useful:
Buy used to save big. Not everything is better used. Like your 70s-era Tudor house that needs expensive repairs, or the baby crib that’s just been recalled.
YM’s take: Being cheap can cost you, so it’s important to weigh the costs and the benefits of any purchase, lest you sink $1,000 into a money pit or cause a medical emergency.
Purchase store-brand items to save on groceries. First, there’s the issue of preference—let’s face it, nothing beats Heinz—then there’s the problem that you be looking over better ways to spend your money.
Everyone needs a Roth 401(k). Despite all their tax perks, not everyone should open one of these. People in a higher tax bracket now than they will be at retirement should opt for Traditional IRAs. What’s more, they face contribution caps with a Roth, depending on their annual income.
YM’s take: Talk with a wealth advisor and/or take a long, hard look at your tax return to decide where to smartly save for retirement.
Save every receipt to get a grip on your spending. We don’t know a single soul who does this, much less anyone who’d want to. The clutter, the confusion … it’s just. Too. Much.
YM’s take: Keep your receipts until they’ve been processed online (roughly a day) or up to a month, then ditch them, unless they’ll be useful for tax purposes or a pricey return. For more advice on what to keep, shred or shred, check out this feature.
Save six month’s worth of living expenses for emergencies. Yes, you’ve gotta have a cushion to fall back on if you lose your job, get hit by a car, or your doctor decides to gouge you. But for the average American family, who can’t even scrounge up $2,000 in a week to cover emergencies, it’s time to refine that wisdom.
YM’s take: Shoot to save something each month, but don’t go overboard to the point you can’t get by. There’s no point to saving if you’re living hand to mouth.
Personal finance advice—and any advice, for that matter—will mean nothing if you can’t even use it. So if the rules don’t apply to you, ditch ’em. Your life will be much richer.
What personal finance advice are you sick of hearing?
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